On a very hot Saturday morning in November the people of the village of
Lokpano, Togo began to make their way to the local school to attend a special
church service that marks an important day in the history of the Lutheran
church in this community.
In 1980 the late Rev. Walt DeMoss, crossed
from Ghana into Togo to share the gospel and offer
pastoral care and mercy to Bi-Moba refugees fleeing
from a tribal conflict that they lost with the neighboring
Konkomba. When one looks at a modern map
today, one could say that Rev. DeMoss switched
mission fields; but actually, he stayed with the same
people group. The Bi-Moba have lived in the same
general northern area of modern day Ghana and
Togo for generations - since well before colonial
borders cut through the middle of their lands. Rev.
DeMoss trained evangelists, initiated agricultural
projects, established a school and a clinic, and
served as the supervisor and spiritual father for
numerous Bi-Moba who are still in the Lutheran
church today. The geo-graphical center of this work
was in the village of Lokpano. From here
missionaries were sent out to plant other Lutheran
parishes and mentor local evangelists in the northern
part of Togo.
After the departure of Rev. DeMoss and the sizable team of
LCMS World Mission American missionaries in the early 2000's,
the task of pastoral care and evangelism was left to the
Togolese. The CLET was formed to help prepare local pastors
for this task. Although new parishes continued to be established
and more pastors were trained and ordained for this Ministry,
the village of Lokpano was left without a full-time, called pastor.
The little Lokpano flock was served by evangelists and ordained
pastors from other villages who came on intermittent visits. But
on November 16th of this year, the prayers of the Lutherans in
Lokpano and the missionaries who served here for many years
were finally answered: the Lokpano parish was getting their first
As the sun began to heat up the morning air, village
chiefs and elders, local authorities, church choirs, and pastors
from the Lutheran parishes and pastors from other protestant
congregations, began to assemble and take their seats. The
Togolese authorities also sent armed soldiers to ensure security.
The music began and more and more people came to experience
this important day. The service of the Word and the rite of
ordination lasted for more than three hours. Rev. President
Lambon LAR of the Lutheran Church of Togo conducted the
rite of ordination. Alongside scripture readings, preaching, and
prayers, were also dances, offerings of gifts for the parish and
for the new pastor and his family, and official greetings from
local authorities and pastors. A special greeting was shared by
the pastor and church leaders from the sister Lutheran congregation
from just across the border in Bunkpurugu, Ghana. This
was a wonderful sign of direct, inter-Africa church support from
the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana toward their brethren in the Lutheran Church of Togo.
After the service, guests were invited to
share a meal of rice, fufu (pounded
sweet potato), green sauce, pork, and
chokpah (the local millet beer).
Vicar DJEKOAB Yantchnaen
and his wife Acha had left Lokpano
back in 2012 to begin studies at CLET.
I had the privilege to teach DJEKOAB
in some of the first classes I taught just
after arriving in the mission field. He
successfully completed the three years
of study at CLET in June of 2015 and
then worked faithfully to complete his
vicarage by June of 2017. It had taken over two years for the local parish and
the national church to plan the ordination. By Western standards that may seem
a bit strange. Why the delay? In Africa there are many dynamics in play with
status, resources, and decision-making processes. Generally speaking, the
manner in which you pursue a goal with others, how you speak with and work
with others in their relation to you and other authorities, is even more important
than the goal itself. We are thankful that the ordination was planned and that it
was done in a way that had all pastors and levels of authority of the national
church and local parish involved. It was a true joy to be present for this day with
the ELT pastors and members, along with fellow missionaries Rev. Micah
Wildauer and Valerie Stonebreaker.
Catechism in Moba-Ben for the public examination of Confirmation.
Although this special day and celebration have passed, we rejoice that
now the Lokpano parish has their pastor and can continue to celebrate the
blessing we all have in faith in Jesus Christ that prepares us for the celebration
and feast before the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end. We pray that the
Lord guard and keep Pastor DJEKOAB in his Ministry in Lokpano for many
years to come.
Rev. Jacob W. Gaugert
Centre Luthrien D'tudes Theologiques
Togocell # (+228) 93 43 95 26
T-Mobile Intl. # (262) 271-3813
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